Growth in factory activity in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region gained momentum in January but firms' outlook for the months ahead worsened, a regional Federal Reserve gauge released on Thursday showed.
The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said its business activity index stood at 9.4 points compared with 6.4 in December. January's reading beat the median forecast of 8.6 among economists polled by Reuters.
Any reading above zero indicates manufacturing expansion in the region, which includes factories in eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware. The index has been positive for eight consecutive months.
The forward-looking new orders index, however, slipped to 5.1 from 12.9 in December, while prices paid reading rose to 18.7 from 16.4. The employment component jumped to 10.0 from 4.4.
The six-month business conditions index fell to 34.4 from December's reading of 44.8. In October, this outlook gauge was 60.8, which was the highest since September 2003.
The survey is one of the first monthly indicators of the health of U.S. manufacturing leading up to the national report by the Institute for Supply Management.